Technology Integration for Teacher Mentors

Today’s agenda



Media Integration

Observation Tools


Nigerian EdTech Scam

Warn your CIO or technology director! Schools all over the country are getting taken by these Nigerian eLearning scams! It seems they’re selling technology at high rates and making outrageous promises of learning. Somehow educational institutions keep getting taken in! FORWARD THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!!


Dear Esteem Beneficiary,

Have you receive all promises from technology you bought? Or from any organization claiming that they have magic learning technology to sell you? We have been watching every transactions that you made from last year 2008 up till date and you have to know that we are also working to make sure that your great learning which is supposed to be delivered to students some days ago can be immediately be delivered to you without any further delay or any kind of excuses.

The Federal Bureau of Education does not want any of our citizens to lose their magic eLearning technology and that is why we have been working every hour on our cyber watch department so you won’t get burnt by this scammers.

We are aware of every payment you have made on the transaction you are into to make the transaction succeed, yet the results is still held down by the NCLB and the immigration officer at the airport.

We want you to take note that our special educational service teacher men are the one to deliver your magic elearning technology to you without any further roadblock agencies.

The special educational service teacher men are in Nigeria where your technology learning is originated at the international airport now, as soon as you get back to this email by applying to the instruction that is sent to you, the students will start learning immediately.

The payment you are to send now so that your learning magic can finally get to you is the sum of $400000000USD for the airport clearance of your fund due to the huge amount of eLearning, and as soon as this has been sent down via money gram, paypal or western union international money transfer, the delivery will take immediate effect by the special educational service teacher men.

You have to stop every other idea you are into and stop communication with other organization and teachers to avoid delay on processing of your special elearning magic and that is why we at the FBE have email you to warn you that your fund is in Nigeria at the immigration office where the special educational service teacher men will deliver it to you personally as soon as the payment of $400000000USD is sent to them.

Get back to us at the FBE as soon as you receive this email.

Thanks for your co-operation.

Yours in technology guaranteed learning,

Robert S. Mueller,
Federal Bureau of Education
J. Edgar Murrow Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001, USA

From Good to Outstanding-PD on Steroids

Picture 2

From Good to Outstanding

Follow teachers as they work to improve their practice with a team of experts. Each teacher delivers an initial lesson, observed by school inspector Clare Gillies, then using her and other expert feedback, they fine-tune their skills and try deliver an outstanding second lesson a few weeks later.

This is one of those things that makes me want to move to the UK. If you have anything to do with professional development at your school this should really get you thinking.

So basically-

  • the lesson is filmed and observed by a master teacher
  • they post the raw class footage
  • people can then offer suggestions etc. online
  • the input from the master teacher and online suggestions is analyzed
  • expert feedback is given
  • the lesson is retaught
  • a compiled version showing before, expert mentoring and the after lesson is posted

I’m looking at it like this.

  • Classroom visits- You want teachers seeing other teachers teach. The way they capture the raw footage and put it up on the site is awesome. If you’re doing this you’re building a library of visits for people to use whenever and wherever without the additional overhead of providing subs etc.
  • Modeling classroom skills- Perfect, real-world demonstrations of skills teachers want to learn done with your population. The video may need additional aspects to make it a complete package for this but you’ve can show the skill happening in the classroom and that’s invaluable1.
  • Modeling coaching- You’ve got the chance to show adminstrators, department heads, grade level chairs exactly how to help teachers improve practice- how to have those conversations and it’s in a real-world, authentic situation. How do you give useful feedback? What types of questions do you ask?
  • Set standards- I forget the book right now but the author talks about how varied people’s ideas are regarding good practice and the problems this causes. This gives you a chance to discuss that and build a very concrete set of examples.
  • Professional Development- You’re giving people all sorts of ways to improve their own practice. They see things they like/don’t like and start thinking about how to incorporate or remove those things from their own classroom. They also have the ability to comment on ways to improve the lesson when it’s initially posted in raw format. That conversation, done correctly, could mimic some of the things Dan’s WCYDWT series that I find so interesting2 It also brings in elements of the Iron Teacher concept that I like. And there’s no reason you couldn’t have both those options working alongside the Good to Outstanding videos.

There are a million other advantages and ways I would use this. There are a bunch of videos up there now. Go check them out and then figure out what it’d take to make your own. Even without the after part, the raw video footage would be incredibly useful.

1 and almost always missing or done with models or simulated etc.

2 Despite the fact that I’m totally out of my element with math instruction.

Laugh or cry

—Because I want to share the voices in my head with others

Footnotes, italics, scare quotes and a few minor deletions by me . . .

Original Article By Tyler Whitley
Published: June 20, 2009

Bowing to pressure, the state superintendent of public instruction has abandoned her proposal to end the third-grade history and social studies Standards of Learning test.

The proposal drew a bipartisan outcry from legislators and objections from parents, educational groups and textbook publishers. And after all, who should know better than these experts in education and parties without any financial interest in continued testing? Does the state superintendent of public instruction think she was put in place to decide what is best for students? Of course not, that’s what textbook publishers are for.

Superintendent Patricia I. Wright said she made the proposal to save about $380,000 a year and because she thought third-graders were being tested too much.

“Poppycock” sneered Ms. Stanflowski, a textbook lobbyist. ” Every study we’ve paid someone to do for us proves exactly what we’ve always said. It is impossible to give expensive multiple choice tests too early, or too often.”

But superintendent Wright said yesterday that she will recommend, at the State Board of Education meeting next Saturday, proceeding with the test and that the board approve a timeline for weaving history-related passages into the elementary reading tests next year after revisions of the reading standards.

“I understand the concerns of the educators, legislators and others who disagreed,” she said. “I had not realized just how broken our system was. Parents are this brainwashed, really? Does anyone know what I could make consulting?”

Lynda Tran, a spokeswoman for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, described the discussion about the SOLs as “healthy.”

Tom Woodward, a spokesman for reality, described the discussion as “vomitous1.”

The discussion sends a signal that “we can expect as a state to continue to lead the way on education achievement,” Tran said. “Because testing equals achievement. It’s not because we’ve totally lost sight of what education is and have fallen to measuring poorly, but often, to satisfy petty bullies who don’t know a damned thing about education.”

Wright’s action was praised by Del. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, the House of Delegates majority leader, who joined many of his colleagues in opposition to Wright’s proposal.

“The bottom line is the history tests are a building block to understand how the government and our society works,” he said. “The children need to start at an early age. I am now legislating for in vitro testing. Think of all the things you memorized in 3rd grade that resulted in my election? You think I want to mess up that system?

Griffith also said taking the history and social studies test demonstrates how well a third-grader can read. Griffith then headed back to teaching elementary school and working nights teaching literacy to teachers as he has done for 30 plus years2.

The questions on the test range from geography to architecture to history.

African-American legislators noted that the third-grade test emphasizes African-American heroes, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson. If the test were eliminated, the first exposure students would have to African-American history would be slavery in the fourth-grade curriculum, they said.

At this point a teacher mentioned that she would still teach about African-American heroes and didn’t need the state test, in fact she would have “more freedom to expand and explore the topic with her students.” The unnamed woman was quickly ejected from this meeting as she had no business being there and was clearly out of touch with reality.

1 As in, inducing vomit or the taste of bile into one’s mouth.

2 Ed. Sorry it turns out Griffith is an attorney with no early childhood literacy experience. I don’t know how we got that so wrong.

New Blackboard Executive Starts Blog, Opts Not to Use BB’s “Blogging” Option

—Another mock Chronicle article – it’s probably getting tiresome but it’s entertaining me right now.

original article here by JEFFREY R. YOUNG
footnotes, italics, scare quotes on blog and a few minor deletions by me . . .

The new head of Blackboard Inc.‘s course-management-software division, Ray Henderson, started a “blog” this week, and he’s already facing tough questions from critics. Blackboard’s top management wanted to know just what the hell this “blog” thing was and if there was a way to charge people extra for it.

Eager to prove that he plans to bring change to Blackboard, Mr. Henderson declared that his “blog” is a sign of more transparent times. “Me joining the company means we’re going to communicate more often and more openly,” he wrote in his opening post on Tuesday. “We are even considering responding to phone calls from clients who pay less than $500,000 a year in fees.”

“I’m excited about having a spot where I can muse out loud about my take on various things in eLearning, and have other folks weigh in with theirs,” he added. “In particular, I’ve got lots to say on the whole openness, standards, interoperability question. It’ll be particularly nice because if I talk about this stuff on company grounds I’ll be fired.

He allows comments on the blog, though he says he is moderating them before they go live. “I’m dipping my toe in the previously uncharted waters for Blackboard of having comments turned on in this blog,” he explained in a note on the blog. “Not revolutionary I know and really required for an interesting exchange. But a new step for Blackboard nonetheless and one we’re taking gradually. Afterall, it’s not like we’re some new fangled company focused on web-based technology or something!

Still, Mr. Henderson has allowed plenty of critical voices on the site so far. “Tell your new Blackboard colleagues to drop the lawsuit with D2L,” wrote one commenter, referring to the company’s patent-infringement lawsuit against Desire2Learn, another company making course-management software. “Start putting education (not litigation) first.” Another commenter said that Blackboard promised more open communication with customers last time it bought a rival, when it bought WebCT in 2007, but did not deliver. The blog commenter asked: “Why should we believe what you are saying this time?”

Mr. Henderson wrote a reply today to some of the questions. He punted on the patent issue: “Step one is for BlackBoard to win the suit or buy D2L. Until we do so it’s not something I’ll talk about here.” And he closed with a cliffhanger: “To the question about what’s new this time around as Bb and ANGEL come together, there are some really important differences that I’ll be addressing directly in the next week or two.”

Mr. Henderson then cackled wildly, drank deeply from a cup that looked disturbingly like a human skull and flew off on bat-like wings.

Miami-Dade Workshop 6-11-09

Google Tips

Media Resources

[poll id=”1″]


Educational Examples

Tutorials and Free Blogs

Google Earth

Get Google Earth for free or use Google’s My Maps option(You’ll need a free Google account to do this.)

Educational Examples

Tutorials and More

Good Education Resources

Ethical Choices and Transgression in Games

Tom has been gracious enough to let me back in the door to blog my experience at the Gaming + Learning + Society conference this week.


Ethical Choices and Trangression in Games
MicroPresentations by Manveer Heir, Anthony Betrus, Monica Evans, David Simkins, and Erin Hoffman

This rapid-fire session felt like TED on speed.  Each presenter had 7 minutes to present, then the floor was opened for discussion.  There were a couple clear themes that resonated with me.

First, Manveer Heir was the only presenter to focus on gaming from a non-MMOG.  Heir pointed out that most modern games follow a black and white model of ethics–the kind of ethic you see in Star Wars, for instance.  In this framework, the choices of the players are very limited and do not accurately reflect the world around us.  He is advocating for a more “grey” ethic where the choices available to the player are vast and, at times irreversible.  In this grey ethic, the player would experience a larger pallet of emotions.  For instance, if you, as the player, are faced with a scenario where killing a closely aligned character would save a mass of people, and you knew you could not simply save and return if you didn’t like the results, you are going to spend some time determining the reletive value of that choice.  You might experience grief or regret instead of simply blindly choosing to kill knowing you can go back if you want.  Heir sees four key elements to a game that truely pulls off a grey ethic:

  1. Narrative (the player must be emotionally invested; narrative must be in line of the mechanics of the game)
  2. Consequences (must have significant ones for gamer’s choices)
  3. Obstacles (can make the decisions more complecated)
  4. Permanence (Saving and going back circumvent permanence–instead, create a series of key moments in the game that cannot be reversed and change the outcome of the game)

My first reaction was that these four keys translate into a developers nightmare.  Heir would agree.  He pointed out that producers would look at a branch of game play that might only be used, say, 10% of the time (when a player made a certain pivotal choice) and simply cut it. This model for game development does not seem cost effective to the bean counters, but it would move games closer to a life-like experience.

Educators are not bean counters.  Educators see the intrinsic value of creating an ethic that has more than two choices.  And I, for one, believe this type of development, though labor intensive, would provide opportunities to create scenarios for the classroom that are not about simply “winning” or “experiencing”.  A game could be about why you make the choices you do.  The value is in the conversation/reflection after playing.  Students could be places in losing battles in the Civil War and allowed to make different choices than those actually made, or they might be a genetic scientist who has to determine where the line between progress and abuse of power is with their work.  The game would move from a linear simulation to a playground for exploration.

The other presenters focused on online communities (World of Warcraft and GoPets).  The common thread in these presentations was that there was no specific ethic (Black, White, or Grey).  The designers of the game leave those choices up to the players.  In place of an ethic, these games rely on the reputation of the player and the “guild” to guide the players.  This opens the door for abuse and intollerance, but ultimately puts the responsibility on the player.

Educators often fear introducing a game that allows for killing and abuse.  This is why we gravitate to Second Life in the classroom instead of World of Warcraft or EVE.  But putting those constraints on the students means cutting away a vast set of scenarios that could be used as teachable moments.  If our students are playing these games outside of school, and these games are shaping the student’s perception of the world.  Shouldn’t we be open to these games in school if for no other reason than the convesations we could have about the choices we make in games and how they would translate in our real lives? Designing 8-bit Learning Games for a $10 computer

Tom has been gracious enough to let me back in the door to blog my experience at the Gaming + Learning + Society conference this week.

Designing 8-bit Learning Games for a $10 Computer
Presented by Derek Lomas

Derek Lomas wants you to join his open-source educational software revolution.  Lomas, along with two other partners, founded Playpower when they realized educators was lacking a rich, open-source developer community.  He has fond memories of games like Lemonade Stand, Oregon Trail, and Math Munchers (and points out that some teachers are still using these game in their classrooms).  These games were simple, effective, and totally engaging.  Playpower would like to bring back the experience of trekking across the planes or building a neighborhood empire out of squeezed fruit.  “Teens love these indie games.  They get it.  And not simply because they are ‘retro’.”  It seems the field is ripe for educators to turn back to development:  An audience that loves the style;  A platform with restraints (limited graphics, RAM, etc.) that actually benefit the home developer.  The only piece missing is a central place where geeky teachers can go to solicit help, learn the language, and share their goods.  Playpower wants to develop that place.

Lomas’ first project is to pull together/create a set of tools for a “$10 computer“.  That computer, a platform that includes a keyboard with a cartridge slot, a mouse, and two game controllers, runs on an old Nintendo/AppleII processor (which is now in the public domain) and is sold all over the developing world.  With a little help from indie coders, Lomas and his partners hope to create an set of tools that would help educators, students, and programmers create new content that would be passed to distributors who would package the games in the computer kits.  Sick, I know.  So, with all the ingredients in the kitchen, it is just a matter of pulling them together to give new life to these simple machines.

I asked Lomas how the ed tech community could help with Playpower’s greater goal.  “I think it is important to know the history of educational games.”  He would like to create an archive of sorts that would include a catalog of ed. games over the past 30 years.  This resource would include snippets of game play and reviews from educators on the value of the game.  Ideally, the cream of the crop would be available to download and play.  You can help by suggesting great games from the past (and past would include yesterday) that should be included in this catalog.

Also, Lomas wants to see a rebirth of teens being taught programming that would be augmented with game design and development content.  This 8bit revival would be the perfect playground for this type of class or after school program.  Students who are hardcore gamers would get to know the entire process of developing a game in a manageable framework.  Look for a Playpower game design contest for students in the near future.

More Mockery

USA Today’s Dumbest Article (Today, that is)

It appears that desperation breeds sensationalism. USA Today attempts to stave off irrelevancy by publishing nonsense. Modified article below. As usual, footnotes and italics are mine. Some minor deletions of original article may also occur.
Original Article By Erin Thompson, USA TODAY
Teens and young adults are more likely in their free time to check their Facebook page than read a book.

And they are dumber for it.

“If you examine history closely, you’ll see that the only free time option since the dawn of time has been reading books. Now we have one other option, that monstrosity, that corrupter of youth, that Facebook. I think you can see why we’re doomed.”

That is Mark Bauerlein’s contention in The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, How to Sound Arrogant and Make Money Off Bitter Old People), recently released in paperback (Tarcher/Penguin, 236 pp.)

Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University in Atlanta, says Generation Y, ages 16-29, has been shaped by exposure to computer technology since elementary school. Those individuals who are 30 were lucky enough to escape this tragedy entirely and have normal levels of intelligence.

The cost, he says, outweighs the convenience. Kids are writing more than ever online or in text messages, but it’s not the kind of narrative skill needed as adults, he says. “Those forms groove bad habits, so when it comes time to produce an academic paper … or when they enter the workplace, their capacity breaks down.”

“Ask any adult,” Bauerlein states. “They write long research papers on novels virtually everyday. Poetry also abounds. Footnotes and citations are key elements in every adult’s life. In the real world, no one wastes time with personal communications and relationship building.”

Social networking sites can give young users “the sense of them being the center of the universe,” Bauerlein says.

“It’s kind of like an English teacher being interviewed for insulting the intelligence of an entire generation and assuming he knows enough about cognitive development, society, learning, public education etc. to be able to diagnose the exact cause of their “issues,” Bauerline finished. “Our society can’t handle that kind of ego and arrogance.”

That gives them a distorted understanding of how the world works, he says. “If you go into a room of strangers, you don’t know how to relate. You can’t replicate your IM habits,” he says. “It closes people off from a wider engagement with the world1.”

“It’s not like there are going to be other strangers in the room that have been raised like they have. If only they could have avoided all technology so they’d fit in really well with the rest of society. You know, like the Amish do.”

Parents must do more to pull their teens away from technology, including being role models in developing intellectual pursuits: “Talk with your kids. Kids can’t do this by themselves.”

“If only kids could get off of the Facebook and watch Friends reruns with their parents. Remember if lots of people are doing it at the same time it’s communal, even if you can’t actually see or communicate with one another.”

But Gary Small, director of the Center of Aging at the University of California-Los Angeles and co-author of iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, says teens are just as smart as they ever were. That is why he’s mentioned very briefly at the bottom of this article.

They’re just smart in different ways, Small says. “In some ways (technology) is hindering, in some ways it’s advancing” education, he says. “It teaches our brain a different way of processing things.”

Shortly after this statement Small was added to our list of people who say reasonable things (and should never be interviewed again).

1 The Internet was once rumored to help breakdown borders. This was proven to be untrue in Bauerline’s earlier work “Face to Face: The Only Way Communication Happens.”